Wanting to Die Helped Me Figure Out How to Nurture Happiness

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As my parents have aged, and moved into more dementia (yes, both of them), my sibs and I have gone from frequent visits to their midwestern town, where they were beloved, to far more regular caregiving. In a herculean effort, we managed to pack up them and 15 suitcases of their most important belongings and get them on a plane to California, sans urinary accidents and protestations about leaving the home they had known for 60 years. …


(a caveat. This is a HUGE subject and this is a brief attempt to organize my early thoughts on right relationship, through the lens of my own life. Completely open to feedback and to co-creation. I also mention a number of books throughout, which give more detailed accounts of the points discussed.)

I was spending some sweet time with my husband Doug recently, and he was helping me clarify my dreams for my work in the world. His significant encouragement and “boots on the ground” assistance with helping me give my gifts, brings me to tears just writing about it. It is, perhaps, the primary way I feel loved in the world, and he frequently gives me the leg up I need to be a brighter light, a more effective healer, a “good enough” mother, a raw example of a woman trying to do life with scraped knees and a loud song (not always on key). This was a typical “date” for us — some time reserved for the two of us alone, to focus on what’s important. …


Non-prescription, non-addictive methods that stop anxiety in its tracks

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Anxiety is like an enemy that steals the joy from life, which is painful for the anxious person and for all the people who love them. In my last blog, ‘Why are So Many Teens and 20-Somethings Today Anxiety-Ridden?’ I discussed the 5 major reasons that our young people are anxious and how we and they can support them to find the calm, joyful lives they deserve. These behaviors form the fundamental basis for the young people in my practice to conquer their anxious symptoms. In this blog, I want to share some of the non-prescription secret weapons I use to help all the patients in my office find more peace on their paths to getting free of anxiety. …


5 Key Ways You Can Help Restore Peace and Balance

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I am a family practice doc who sees teens and 20-somethings daily in my practice. And I have raised 3 teenagers in the past 9 years, as well as a beautiful group of their teenaged and 20-something friends, who also hang out at my house. I love young people in their teens and 20’s. I love their sass and their creativity and their general aliveness. And I am acutely aware that these young people represent the future of our world and will receive the burden of all the problems we have created for them. So, how are they doing?

Last Thursday in my office I saw a strapping, healthy-looking 22-year old male who couldn’t attend school, get a job, or even look me in the eye because his social anxiety was so intense. I listened to a straight-A 18-year old who is taking a leave from college, even though she loves it, because her anxiety is keeping her from being able to focus on her work or attend class. And I saw a 16-year old who had been out of school for a year due to a wicked combination of social anxiety, sensitivity to loud noise, and a variety of anxiety influenced medical issues: headaches, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. …


Live a life your body loves in 2017.

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As a physician, I get a bit concerned by the exuberant New Year’s Resolutions I hear from my patients: “I’m going to lose ten pounds!” (that I just gained between Halloween and Christmas), or “I’m going to go to the gym EVERY DAY!” (and I hate the gym). I’m concerned, because, well, typically these are unrealistic and fleeting resolutions. And my patients fail because they are focused on the wrong thing altogether. These resolutions are typical of the “mind over matter” health philosophy that our culture loves, and that fails us, over and over again. It fails us because, well, our mind is NOT OVER our matter. Our mind IS our matter — it is part of our body. The split of mind and body leads us to believe we have to discipline our bodies with the strength of our “higher” mind and will (Google Descartes and mind/body split if you want to geek out on the history here). …


Believe it or not, sleep — or the lack of it — is the most common health concern that I discuss with my patients. Whether they can’t fall asleep, stay asleep, or find time to sleep — sleep deprivation has an enormous impact on their health and well-being. We all have to deal with the fact that our culture is not “sleep-friendly.” In 1900, the average person slept 10 hours each night, falling asleep shortly after sunset and sleeping until sunrise. By 1950, with the broad use of electrical lighting, Americans slept an average of 8 hours. And in 2000, the average American slept 6.5 hours a night, dropping 3.5 hours from the amount of sleep required by humans for the last 10,000 years! Sleep deprivation causes irritability, anxiety, lack of concentration, depression and hormonal irregularities — and you wondered what was wrong with America! Shockingly, the average American needs sleep even more than exercise. …


Whether it’s your job that you are worried about keeping or a house with a large mortgage or the daily news of an unstable politic and economy — it’s a hard time for many to stay calm. I have been treating many people over the last few months for anxiety and there are a number of steps that you can take to calm your mind and stop your heart from pounding with worry.

Start with the basics.

1) Eat healthy food and eat small meals regularly. Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein, which you can find in abundance at your local farmer’s market. Too much sugar and caffeine will only worsen anxiety while missing meals lowers blood sugar and exacerbates anxiety. If you REALLY need caffeine, consider green tea, which is not only healthful, but contains theanine, which may actually reduce anxiety, as has been demonstrated in clinical trials. …


1. Love. No, really. And not just on Valentine’s Day. The research shows that the health protective effects of regular affection, relationship, and community are more impressive than whether or not you smoke. So get your hugs on; it’s good for you. And if you don’t have someone to snuggle with, it turns out that affection with your pet helps, too. I love you Spot.

2. Move. Humans did not evolve to sit in armchairs. Our entire physiology has evolved around the vigorous physical work it has taken to survive for the last 10,000 years. So when we take “vigor-man or woman” and make them sit at a desk all day and come home and sit some more — they get slow, depressed, irritable and inflamed — on the inside. This stagnation creates the basis for heart disease, strokes, diabetes, depression and cancer. So move. In whatever way you enjoy. Walk. Skip. Dance. …

About

Doctor Rachel

Rachel is a doctor, mom, loving wife, writer, speaker, eco-activist: healing ourselves, healing the earth

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